Simple syrup contains only water and sugar and can be made in just minutes. This all-purpose liquid sweetener can be customized in many ways.
If you have ever made a cocktail and added sugar to sweeten it, you might have experienced the sugar sinking to the bottom of the drink and been disappointed with how it tasted.
This often happens to me when I order unsweetened iced tea in a restaurant. I try adding a packet of sugar only to see the crystals of sugar refuse to dissolve and then eventually sink to the bottom of the glass. No matter how much I stir the sugar will not dissolve.
But there is a better way to sweeten your drinks without getting that stubborn sugar sludge. The solution (pardon the pun!) is to use simple syrup.
What is Simple Syrup?
Simple syrup is made when you bring water and sugar to a boil to dissolve the sugar crystals. The reason it is "simple" is the ratio of water to sugar is 1:1, meaning one part water to one part sugar for the most basic version. Overall, this is the best ratio for sweetening up your favorite beverages.
Here's what you need to make Simple Syrup:
Sugar - White granulated sugar, also known as table sugar, or regular sugar, is a type of white-colored sugar with fine crystals. It can be made from either sugar canes or sugar beets.
Plain Water - Plain tap water will do just fine. But if your tap water has an unpleasant odor or taste, use bottled water.
Super Easy Directions
Step 1 - Mix equal parts of water and sugar in a saucepan.
Step 2 - Bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cool the syrup to room temperature.
Step 3 - Store the finished and cooled syrup in a covered glass container in the refrigerator. Generally, it will keep for up to a month.
My Top Tips
Bring the syrup to a boil to ensure that all the crystals of sugar are well dissolved. If crystals of sugar are left in the solution, it may not store well, and the crystals can grow larger.
Do not boil the solution to reduce the volume. Boiling for even a few minutes can concentrate the syrup and make it too sweet for most beverage recipes. Large crystals of sugar may also form when concentrated sugar syrup is stored for longer than a few days. If you do need to make a heavy or rich syrup, try to use it immediately to avoid crystallization.
Substitutions & Variations
Simple syrup is generally made from white granulated sugar. But all types and forms of sugar can be used to make it. So, there's more to simple syrup than just white granulated sugar.
Use Brown Sugar
For example, you can also make various brown sugar syrups just by changing out the white granulated sugar to brown sugar. Brown sugar syrup is a great way to flavor coffee drinks both hot and cold like Irish Coffee.
This image shows three different syrups made with three different brown sugars, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, and Demerara sugar. Even though the crystals of the sugars are light, medium, and dark, the syrups all look very dark and very much alike. Interestingly, each has a different strength of molasses aroma and flavor.
- Light Brown Sugar - Makes the lightest syrup and has a lighter molasses aroma and flavor.
- Dark Brown Sugar - This is stronger in molasses aroma and flavor than light brown sugar.
- Demerara Sugar - Makes the darkest syrup and has a strong and rich molasses aroma and flavor.
Change the Sweetness and Weight
Need a sweeter syrup? Then increase the ratio of sugar in the syrup to one part water to two parts sugar and you make a sweeter, heavy syrup.
Need a lighter syrup? Then change the ratio to one part water to one half part sugar and your syrup is less sweet and lighter in weight.
You can also infuse fruits, spices, herbs, and just about anything you can imagine into a simple syrup. Imagine how delicious a spiced and sweet syrup would be in delicious autumn coffees and winter cocktails. If you want spiced syrup, herbed syrup, or citrus-infused syrup, I've got you covered! Just check out my amazing chart of various types of flavored simple syrups to try.
More Uses for Simple Syrup
This all-purpose sweetener is not just for beverages! It is also used in a wide variety of dishes and foods like these:
- Cake and Trifle Drizzle
- Ice Cream Drizzle
- Top Pancakes and Waffles
- Poached Fruit
- Flavored Whipped Creams
- Make Cooked Frostings
- Make Candy
- Can Fruits
My mom used to make her own "maple syrup" by making a rich, brown sugar syrup and adding some maple flavoring to it. She cooked it down a bit and we had it warm over our pancakes as a special breakfast treat. For our family, it was more economical than buying syrup at the store.
There are so many ways to make your own syrup and even more ways to use it. Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know how you use it!
Great Recipes that Contain Simple Syrups
- 1 Cup Water
- 1 Cup White Granulated Sugar
- Mix water and sugar in a saucepan.1 Cup Water, 1 Cup White Granulated Sugar
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cool the syrup to room temperature.
- Store the finished and cooled simple syrup in a glass container in the refrigerator.
Encharted Cook Notes
Nutrition Per Serving
All nutritional information on this site is an estimate. Your results may vary.